Board ousts administrators after Eastern Michigan crisis

Eastern Michigan University Regent Floyd Clack, left, chairman Thomas Sidlik, center, and regent James Stapleton, right, discuss the firing of President John Fallon. DAVID P. GILKEY | DETROIT FREE PRESS

Credit: DKS Editors

YPSILANTI, Mich. (MCT) – As the board that governs Eastern Michigan University prepared to vote to oust top administrators over the cover-up of a campus killing, its leader spent several minutes highlighting all that was going right at the university.

Even he acknowledged those accomplishments had been overshadowed.

Covering up the slaying of student Laura Dickinson on campus. Underreporting other crimes. A faculty strike. Missing master keys. Building problems. A $ 6 million president’s home. In recent years, it seems, it has been one controversy after another at the Ypsilanti campus.

Members of the Board of Regents said Monday they are ready to build a culture of transparency and openness and get the campus back to its mission of teaching and learning.

Regents took a big step this week by dismissing President John A. Fallon III; Jim Vick, vice president of student affairs; and Cindy Hall, director of public safety.

“It’s a take-off point to move ahead and focus on our students, focus on the fact that this university is all about supporting learning and student development,” said Donald Loppnow, provost and executive vice president. He has been tapped to handle presidential duties until an interim is named.

It could be a long haul.

“The sooner Eastern can get its focus back on its primary mission, the better off they will be,” said Michael Boulus, president of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan. He added that a wholesale change of top administrators is not that uncommon.

The controversies have hurt, said Steven Smith, an Eastern Michigan senior from Westland.

“Unfortunately I think EMU has a negative image,” Smith said. “We had people that are not honest leaders. They’re worried about their personal agendas instead of the students and the staff. For Eastern to move forward, they really need to quit the backdoor politics.”

A recent U.S. Department of Education report criticized the university for underreporting or misreporting campus crime for years.

“There are some universities who do not want to make that information public for numerous reasons,” said Alison Kiss, program director at Security on Campus, the Pennsylvania group whose complaint led to the federal investigation.